Artist: Lee DeWyze
Hometown: Mount Prospect, Illinois
Latest Album: Ghost Stories
Which artist has influenced you the most … and how?
I would have to say two artists: Paul Simon and Cat Stevens. I always believed everything Paul Simon was saying in his songs, which to me always spoke to the honesty in music — I find that very important for me in my writing. And the emotionality and vulnerability that Cat Stevens put in not only his live performances, but his recordings as well. I was so hooked on them from a young age it was quite literally what inspired me to start writing and playing.
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I was about 10 years old and I was reading along the back cover of the Tea for the Tillerman as my dad played it (we always had records playing). I can remember being amazed that these stories were being told through music and I was so moved — it was almost a calling for me. It was like a mental picture book.
How often do you hide behind a character in a song or use “you” when it’s actually “me”?
I would say I do like to have the listener feel like they’re part of the story. I would like to think over the years I’ve become more open to being vulnerable in my writing. I do like to write from my point of view — that said I’m not always writing from my experience. Sometimes it’s just understanding someone else’s experience and trying to convey that from my perspective.
What’s the toughest time you ever had writing a song?
I would say probably during this past year, plus there was a stretch of about eight months that I just could not find the inspiration to write. Which seems ironic considering all the time I had. It was definitely a test for myself, but after a while the writing kind of swept me up and it was like the flood gates were open, allowing me to finish my new record, Ghost Stories.
What other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc. — inform your music?
I would definitely say that film/visual media has found its way into my music. I’ve had quite a few songs in TV and movies and I suppose I’ve always loved that marriage. Whether it be a song of mine that finds its way in, or I’m brought on to write specifically for something. From Harold and Maude to the Disney classics, I always loved the music and movies from a young age. I remember seeing Fantasia for the first time and it blew my mind.
Photo credit: JDubs Photography